In 1965 a Japanese Doctor released a pedometer, and named it ‘Manpo-Kei’ which literally translates as 10,000 steps. A great piece of marketing, but with no real science backing.
10,000 steps is however a useful target for many people, as it stretches you to be more active than usual, especially for those in office-based sedentary jobs.
In the meantime science has discovered that walking reduces stress-hormone cortisol (unlike running which increases it,) and reduces inflammation. Some research suggests that increasing from 2500 to 4000 steps will increase life expectancy, with further benefits up to around 7500. With this in mind let’s look at some tips:
For those looking for weight loss, it can be nice to have an activity to focus on, rather than obsessing over food choices.
Wrist pedometers are really popular, and you can set reminders for yourself if the pedometer notices you have been still for a long time. If you have a smartphone with an accelerometer there are also many free step tracking apps available.
Otherwise you could have a set walking time or distance that equates to your step goal. For most people 10,000 steps is roughly 5 miles, or 1 hour and 15 minutes of walking.
There are a couple of different ways to approach increasing your daily steps:
Set aside some time each day for walking. Carve out some time to add walking into your daily routine. For many people walking can have meditative properties and if you set a long stretch aside for walking this can be a chance for some creative thinking and reflection.
Incorporate more walking into your day. Convert part of your commute to walking, even if it’s parking further away from work or school. Take the staircase. Invest in a treadmill desk. Spread things that you often use a bit further away from eachother to keep you moving throughout the day. Doing it this way can be beneficial because you won’t really notice you’re being more active than usual, and don’t have the daunting task of walking 5 miles in one go.
Some general tips for getting started:
Get some insoles for your shoes, and thick socks, to alleviate the added friction/impact on your feet. You can get moulded arch supports which made a big difference to your overall walking comfort. Invest in a breathable waterproof jacket if you’re likely to be walking in the cold/wet.
Write on your schedule/calendar when and where you’ll be walking. Invite friends to join you if possible.
Don’t worry if you can’t manage 10,000 every day, especially at the beginning. If you’re worried about the impact it will have aim for 4000 for the first week, and aim to reach 8-10,000 over the next 6 weeks.
Take some music/audiobook/podcasts with you. If you can pair this healthy activity with a listening experience you enjoy, you will naturally get excited about doing it.
Thanks for reading!